Every day Laxmi would wake up at 5 in the morning to brush her teeth, prepare breakfast, gather grass for the family buffalo, and study. Thanks to earning the Ambitious Girls Fund stipend she relished her daily routine despite the 1½-hour hike to and from Sivanandira College in her district of Arghakhanchi. She was just happy for the opportunity to pursue her passion: agriculture.
Laxmi explains her love of animal and plant cultivation as a natural outcrop of her Nepali heritage. She points out that Nepal is an “agricultural country” where she can contribute most to society by learning modern agricultural techniques. And, besides, she loves growing tomatoes. Her favorite thing is to watch a new tomato taking shape on the vine while all the other plants lie dormant—tomatoes are the only vegetable to grow in the off-season.
During Laxmi’s yearlong agricultural program she took courses in 11 subjects ranging from plant production to community development. Her favorite subject was plant protection. She was intrigued by the advanced methods she learned to protect her beloved fruits and vegetables from pests.
Laxmi is planning to take a follow-up two-year agricultural course in the near future to gain even more skills.
Saraswati, 25, is a remarkable Dalit woman. Despite the low levels of Dalits completing even high school she has managed to not only finish high school, but also earn her Bachelors. Even more, she is now working on her Masters in Sociology in order to “get a job in the social sector and help women who are deprived from so many opportunities.” She boldly asserts, “I want to be the medium for these women to get their opportunities.” EDWON is proud to champion such women and to say that Saraswati is one of our Fieldworkers.
As the Fieldworker for Baglung, Saraswati helped to organize the Baglung Reproductive Health Workshop in May and make sure it ran smoothly. Not only that, EDWON also invited her to attend the Workshop due to her status as an important community member who could pass on the knowledge she gained to the five Baglung Women’s Groups.
This month EDWON caught up with Saraswati to hear more about her experiences of the Baglung Workshop and how she has used the knowledge she gained to help herself and her community.
First of all, Saraswati reports that the Workshop atmosphere was very encouraging for the women who might not have shared their experiences otherwise “because of shame.” Furthermore, from the Workshop she learned many vital lessons on topics ranging from breast cancer to child marriage.
However, one simple but important takeaway for Saraswati was how critical it is to ask women to go to the health worker when they are experiencing any kind of medical problem—in rural regions of Nepal people don’t assume that a medical professional could help them so the Workshop stresses the importance of seeking out a health worker when in need. Clearly the women heard the importance of that message as Saraswati attests to. Now she reports, “I help the women in the community by advising them to go to the health worker when they are suffering from all different kinds of health problems.”
Gita is a leader in the village of Taklung. She is largely responsible for bringing the need for women’s health programs to our attention. Her concern led us directly to engage with GlobalGiving. We are so grateful to you for making the workshops possible. Your generosity has already saved one—perhaps two lives.
In July 2014, Gita sent us this narrative which so vividly demonstrates the importance of these workshops:
“In Taklung a few women understand how important reproductive and sexual health knowledge is. When the doctors and nurses came to teach us, these women made sure to bring all the mother-in-laws and daughter-in laws of our village to the Workshop.
The Workshop proved to us that the normal behavior towards daughter-in-laws needs to improve! It also taught us about the appropriate age to give birth and when to seek medical care during labor. We learned about birth spacing, contraceptives, gender equality, and the adverse effects of child marriage. We discussed the danger of cervical cancer and many other things.
With all the new knowledge we gained from the Workshop, we saved the life of a woman and her baby. This is now an inspiring example for our village!
It was only 2 weeks ago that a daughter-in-law of a Workshop participant went into labor. The labor went on for many, many hours. But luckily the mother-in-law had learned in the Workshop that medical attention is needed when labor pains are prolonged.
We all got together to help and hurried to get the woman to the nearest health post as fast as we could. The roads weren’t paved so we couldn’t use a motor vehicle. In a cloth hammock we carried our sister for 3 to 4 hours to reach Manakamana Poly Clinic. But, when we got there, they told us that the baby’s heart was beating abnormally fast and the mother’s bleeding was unstoppable. They told us to take her to Bharatpur Hospital. Bharatpur is far away, but there is a road, and we got a ride. Once at the hospital, thankfully everything went well: our sister gave birth to a healthy 3.5kg girl!
I thank God every day for this training. Sometimes I wonder, had we not had the Workshops, would we have lost three of our sisters and orphaned their children?
We are very happy that these Workshops are available to us. We are grateful that we won't have to lose our sisters in childbirth because of ignorance. I am very grateful to EDWON and everyone associated with it.”
Gita, ADWAN Board Member, Taklung Village Activist
We join Gita in thanking you, the donors, who made this possible.
On the 18th & 19th of this past June, EDWON hosted the sixth and final Reproductive Health Workshop in the Ghairung & Bungkot region of Gorkha district. From here, all six communities will receive a follow-up refresher training 8 months from the time of their initial Workshop.